There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. Slathered with butter, it’s a simple treat that can often tempt the most carb-phobic to grab a slice of the action.
Many of us tend to grab a loaf of standard white from the supermarket for our morning toast and lunchtime sandwiches, but it’s the traditional baked loaves, complete with golden crunchy crust, that really tends to tempt us.
But while the scent of sourdough can be enough to make us weak at the knees, for those with an intolerance to wheat, yeast, or gluten (and some other surprising ingredients) that simple loaf of bread can be the source of all sorts of problems.
As we head into real bread week, an international celebration of local bakeries and home baking, we’re taking a look at the common triggers of bread intolerances and how you can curb your carb cravings without the unwanted side effects.
Firstly, what is bread?
Bread is one of the oldest human-made staple foods and has been found around the world throughout history, playing an important role in religious and cultural rituals.
Prepared from a dough of flour mixed with water, the bread is generally baked in an oven or over a flame. The dough can be leavened by introducing active raising ingredients such as baking soda, fresh or dried yeast or naturally occurring microbes, such as those found in sourdough.
The mass-produced bread we know today exists thanks to the invention of a method called the Chorleywood process. In the 1960s, research bakers discovered that by adding hard fats, extra yeast and other chemicals and then mixing at high speed you got a dough that was ready to bake in a fraction of the usual time. It allowed bread to be made economically with low protein British wheat. Chorleywood bread now accounts for 80% of the loaves on supermarket shelves.
While there are relatively few ingredients in a loaf of bread, for those of us with food intolerances, there are plenty of potential triggers to be on the lookout for, including:
The majority of breads are wheat based, which can present a problem for those of us who struggle with sensitivity to wheat flour.
Be it a roll, baguette, or loaf of tiger bread, it’s likely that it’ll contain gluten, the protein found in wheat that gives elasticity to dough. If gluten causes you problems, it’s best to leave the loaves on the shelf.
To help bread dough rise, yeast is an important component. But if you struggle with an intolerance to baker’s years, those light and fluffy breads can be the source of some unwanted side effects.
Seeds and other toppings
Sometimes it’s not so much what’s in the bread, as what’s on it. Seeded bread is a delicious, nutrient rich option. But if you struggle with intolerances to sunflower, poppy or pumpkin seeds, you might have to give those options as miss.
Likewise, some breads come with a tasty cheese topping. But if cows’ milk causes you trouble, that’s definitely one to avoid.
Can you avoid intolerances and still eat bread?
It can be incredibly frustrating when you have a food intolerance, as it can feel like so many of your favourite foods are off limits.
Thankfully, because of the rise of free from alternatives, and greater general awareness of allergy and intolerance, there are more options for people with particular dietary requirements. So, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy many of your favourite foods, just but making some simple adjustments.
Find your Free-From favourites
The rise of free from foods has been huge, with supermarkets embracing the need to provide a wider selection of substitutes and alternatives. Thanks to this, there are more options on the supermarket shelves for people with food intolerances. Wheat and gluten free breads, rolls, wraps and other baked goods are becoming more and more common and easy to find in the shops.
Go your own way
Why not start from scratch and make your own? The online free from community has a wealth of recipes suited to different needs, or consider these naturally free-from alternative types of breads from around the world
- Rye bread
- Corn tortillas
- Sweet potato bread
- Soda bread
Could I be intolerant to bread?
An intolerance to a trigger food involves an inflammatory response where the body mistakes the protein in that ingredient as a threat, sending out antibodies to fight it.
This can result in a host of unwanted side effects, such as IBS, bloating, headaches, joint pain, eczema, or acne. The delay that commonly occurs with a food intolerance means that you may not feel those ill effects until up to 72 hours after eating your problem food, making it difficult to diagnose the cause.
If you’ve noticed that you seem to experience these types of symptoms on a regular basis, it may be worth taking a closer look at the foods you eat to understand if something in your diet could be the cause.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company. At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our food intolerance tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet.